The streaming music service Spotify has garnered some 2 million users in the U.S. since its introduction a little over a year ago. The service includes many big acts like Katy Perry, but many musicians have mixed feelings about it. Some, like Adele and Coldplay, resisted putting new albums on Spotify, citing the service's low royalty payments to musicians. Others, like the Black Keys, won't allow full albums on the service at all.
Singer Andy Williams, best known for his rendition of Moon River, his Christmas TV specials and his long-running show in Branson, Mo., has died.
He was 84.
Williams' publicist, Paul Shefrin, says in a statement sent to reporters that the singer "passed away last night (Tuesday) at home in Branson, Mo, following a year long battle with bladder cancer. ... Williams, 84, who also had a residence in La Quinta, Calif., is survived by his wife Debbie and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian."
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 12:01 pm
Germany's Oktoberfest — that annual celebration of all things lager — kicked off on Sept. 22 in Munich, the festival's birthplace. In honor of the 200-year tradition, NPR Music and opbmusic.org in Portland (America's microbrew capital) team up to present a limited-time music channel devoted entirely to songs about beer.
By now, everyone's heard of Kickstarter, the website that lets people with an idea or project ask other people to contribute toward realizing it. It's called crowd funding, and this summer's big success story was musician Amanda Palmer. She raised more than $1 million to produce her new album. But crowd funding doesn't work for every musician every time.
Mike Rosenberg, also known by his stage name Passenger, met with Maggie and I in Studio A last Monday. While I listened in on his interview, this Brighton, England native poured out the story behind his new album All the Little Lights. Rosenberg was notably one of my first personal encounters with a British artist, let alone a folksy one who "busks."
The members of Sauti Sol rehearse in a cramped recording studio above a chapati restaurant off a noisy highway in Nairobi. Bien-Aime Baraza, Delvin Mudigi and Willis Chimano — the founding members, all 25 — have been friends since they sang together as part of a gospel ensemble in high school. When they graduated in 2005, they didn't want to stop singing, so they formed Sauti Sol. Sauti is Swahili for voice, while sol is Spanish for sun. "Voices of light."
Recently, I was listening to a new tribute album covering the songs of Fleetwood Mac, and thought once again how dreadful most tribute albums are: They don't add much to the legacy of the artists being saluted, while inadvertently freezing vital old music in an amber of sentimentality. Then I turned to When I'm President, an album of new songs by Ian Hunter.
Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland marked an unprecedented intersection of music, culture and politics. In a conversation with World Cafe's David Dye — presented here in four parts — Simon speaks candidly about his legendary collaborations with South African musicians such as Joseph Shabalala and his vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Despers USA practices on a big parking lot off Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y. Band members start wandering in around 6 or 7 p.m. and slowly take their places behind racks of steel drums. Like a symphony orchestra, they're organized by section — the thin tenors ringed around the outside; the big, deep, oil-drum basses toward the center; the midrange "guitars," as they're called, nearby.
Their section leader counts them in. He stops them, and then stops them again, saying the opening needs to be stronger. Eventually, they get it.